The University of British Columbia - June 7, 2015
New research from UBC and the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital shows that risky outdoor play is not only good for children’s health but also encourages creativity, social skills and resilience.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that children who participated in physical activity such as climbing and jumping, rough and tumble play and exploring alone, displayed greater physical and social health.
For the typical American kindergartner, unstructured free play during the school day consists of 20 to 30 minutes of recess, and perhaps some time at indoor “stations” — perhaps creating with building blocks, costumes, or musical instruments. But what if there was more? What if the answer to “what did you do in school today?” was, “I climbed a tree, played in the mud, built a fire”?
That is exactly the kind of learning going on in the Swiss Waldkindergartens, or forest kindergartens, where children ages four to seven spend all of their school days playing outdoors, no matter the weather. With no explicit math or literacy taught until first grade, the Swiss have no set goals for kindergartners beyond a few measurements, like using scissors and writing one’s own name. They instead have chosen to focus on the social interaction and emotional well-being found in free play.
Whether you’re sharing the outdoors with an individual, family, social or school group, it’s exciting to watch these kids develop new coping strategies and shake loose the grip of their symptoms while they enjoy, explore, play and connect in nature.
An invitation to early years educators to be outdoors in their bodies and in the body of the Earth
By Diane Kashin
The York Region Nature Collaborative (YRNC) is a new organization dedicated to enhancing experiences for children to learn in nature and to develop an ecological identity. We are grateful for the sponsorship of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority http://www.trca.on.ca/ in providing us with the venues that support learning in nature for young children, families and educators. We launched our first event “A Family Adventure Walk in the Forest” in October 2014 and with over 200 children and their families we celebrated nature through play and inquiry at the beautiful Kortright Conservation Centre http://kortright.org/. Inspired by the day and the desire to offer more events for free for children and their families, we are planning a conference for educators – May 23rd, 2015 with the renowned author and early childhood educator, Ann Pelo.
“This is a game changer. I’ve never seen so many youth so engaged, inspired and connected,” said Alan Latourelle, CEO of Parks Canada and co-chair of Stream 8: Inspiring a New Generation (ING) at the World Parks Congress held a few weeks ago in Sydney, Australia. Held every ten years, there were more than 6,000 participants from more than 170 nations at the 2014 Congress.
From the moment they come into this world, boys have an appetite and energy that does not stop. One minute they are laughing and playing together, the next they're wrestling and fists and toys are flailing across the room. As a mom of two boys, I admit at first I did everything to keep the peace and prevent any and all outbursts, outbreaks and outlaw-ish behavior. I didn't want to raise rough, rowdy boys, instead I wanted sensitive, respectful and loving young men. Not that I have given up on the sensitive, respectful and loving part — which they most definitely can be — but it took a while to accept that boys need opportunities that allow them to be boys. It's in their DNA to run, wrestle and conquer and they will do anything to be king of the mountain even if it is just a pile of dirt. Boys need space to do the things boys love to do, and an outlet to release the unbelievable amount of energy they have. Fortunately, the outdoors has the space and nature has the patience and durability to let boys be boys.Read more
In the last generation, adults have been consumed with protecting kids against all odds.
But now, some child injury prevention experts are warning too much bubble wrap may be thwarting healthy development. Toronto Star - July 29, 2014Read more
It turns out that girls who spend time outdoors regularly surpass their peers who spend less time outdoors in environmental stewardship, readily seek more challenges and are better problem-solvers – all critical leadership skills – says a new study by the Girl Scout Research Institute More Than S'mores.